A good cybersecurity expert is hard to find. In the modern world, cybersecurity is more pressing than ever as the quantity of attacks continues to ramp up. However, the number of cybersecurity experts working in the field hasn’t increased at the same rate, leaving a skills shortage that can be extremely bad news for businesses and other organizations.
Enterprises are frequently short-staffed, with the problem compounded by the importance of cybersecurity often being underestimated by those making the hiring decisions within companies. As a result, it’s unfortunately common for IT departments to not have enough dedicated experts to fill their requirements.
The problem isn’t just limited to finding cybersecurity experts, though. Retaining talent is also a big challenge. Talent with the requisite skills are much sought-after and therefore operate from a position of strength in the jobs market. Supply and demand means that good talent can charge a premium for their services. Top cybersecurity experts are frequently approached by other companies, and may not hang around if they are not given the right promotion, managerial support, and personal development opportunities. Factor in high levels of work stress and it can add up to a scenario in which great employees do not stay for the long term. That’s bad news for business continuity planning.
The threat of poor cybersecurity
In a perfect world, every business would have sufficient talent to cover every position it needs to fill. But some areas are more vital — or immediately pressing — than others. Because of the risks inherent in poor cybersecurity hygiene, a lack of cybersecurity talent can put businesses at risk. Cybersecurity experts will handle everything from installing encryption tools and firewalls to discovering and reporting breaches, staying on top of patches and developing trends in the field, and crafting careful contingency plans that can be put into action if the need arises.
Cyber attacksleveled against organizations can result in services rendered inaccessible, sensitive data exfiltrated, and more. This can lead to major damage against organizations, whether that takes the form of unwanted downtime, theft, reputational damage, or major financial penalties. This, in turn, poses a major risk to business continuity.
Because many companies don’t fully understand the importance of cyber security, they may assume that it is something that can be handled by even comparatively junior IT teams. However, this is not the case. A lack of certain cyber skill sets, combined with chronic understaffing, therefore leaves organizations unprepared to detect, investigate, remediate, and prevent attacks.
Remedy the situation
There are several steps companies and other organizations can take to remedy this situation. To start with, it is essential that cybersecurity is prioritized. This means recognizing that it is not simply another task to be listed on top of regular IT employee’s workloads. Cybersecurity is a job in and of itself, and companies shouldn’t assume otherwise — any less than they should assume that a CEO, who is competent with numbers, can also squeeze CFO duties into their daily job. Enterprises should also seek to address the reasons listed above, regarding why cybersecurity experts might leave a company.
If paying for a great cybersecurity expert really is beyond the means of a company, consider options like employing one on a part-time basis, who can help put in place the necessary safeguarding systems. This isn’t as optimal as having a full-time employee on staff, but one great part-time cybersecurity expert is very likely better than a full-time employee lacking the requisite skills.
Organizations should also develop their own experts. While there is a distinction between someone who does cybersecurity and an IT employee who, for instance, on-boards new employees on office computer systems, there’s no reason not to seize the opportunity if you have employees doing the latter job who want to expand their skill set to include security. Partnering with IT security training providers can help employees receive the security training that they need.
Preparing for the future
Closing the cybersecurity skills gap is difficult. However, with the right steps, it can be done. What you should be focusing on is ensuring that this is an area taken seriously within your organization. You should also make sure that you have the correct tools and procedures in place to maximize the impact of a lean security team.
Having a detailed business continuity plan that assesses potential threats and the damage they might cause, a well-defined chain of command, disaster recovery plans and more, will ensure that you are able to quickly respond to any and every cyber attack you’re faced with.
The threat of such attacks is, unfortunately, not going away any time soon. But by taking the right precautions, you can help safeguard against them. This should be a priority for any 21st century organization. It’s one you absolutely won’t regret.